Restaurant Review – Lord Hobo: Noble Brews and Chips

by Allison Mikita

Lord Hobo

92 Hampshire Street,

Cambridge, MA

http://www.lordhobo.com

Type of Food: Gastro-Pub

Price Range:  $ $

Vegetarian Friendly:

Beer or Wine List:

Atmosphere:

The space is dark like a porter–with low-lighting, a mahogany wood bar, and deep grey floors.  A local artist’s painting collection fills the walls, providing wonderful pops of color against the deep red walls.  Too bad the contrast is dulled by huge, glowing flatscreens, which look like an afterthought in a place that seems to actively avoid the Boston sportsbar ambiance.

On Saturday night, boisterous groups of friends and couples fill the tightly packed high-top tables and rectangular bar, though there was plenty of room to move around the pub.  The crowd is mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, and exudes a mild hipster vibe complete with horn-rimmed glasses, flannel shirts, Converse sneakers, and skinny jeans.  The music, a few decibels too high, makes it difficult to converse across tabletops. A staff member’s iPod plays through a half-shuffled, unplanned playlist, including Radiohead, hard rockin’ Led Zeppelin, heavy metal, and bee-bop jazz.

Service:

The friendly waiters, casually attentive and knowledgeable about beer, are able to suggest new brews based on a listing of your favorites.

Taste & Presentation:

The well-curated list of brews, half on tap, half in bottles and in casks is a mix of big Belgians, West Coast IPAs, stouts, and almost any other style an ale drinker could want.  And a beer-geek would marvel over the selection of eight beers from Stone brewery, the Jolly Pumpkin bam noire, or the saison from Cambridge’s Pretty Things.  The Conniston Bluebird English Indian Pale Ale was mild and refreshing, but indistinctive.  Beers start at $5.50 and cost up to $48.

The cocktail list includes old-fashioned concoctions with a twist, with blends of small distillery liquors.  The Soylent Green, consists of green Chartreuse, lemon, fresh mint leaves, cucumber slices, and simple syrup ($10).  A sweet, cooling refresher that would be a perfect drink for warmer months.

The dishes, classic fare with a twist, presented in a simple, yet thoughtful style accompanies the hoppy brews well.  Beginning bites include mac and cheese, a charcuterie plate, truffle chips and an arugula salad.  The mac and cheese, a bowl of ditalini pasta covered in a parmesan sauce, was delightfully light but unfortunately bland ($8).  The smoked bacon or Maine lobster optional add-ons would supply needed flavor.  The charcuterie plate with pickled vegetables and “dope mustards” was disappointing ($10 or market price).  The small-portioned sampling, arranged around toasted bread, mostly consisted of pates, along with a tiny strip of duck prosciutto, two carrot slices, a halved Gherkin, and two tiny dollops of mustard.  The large arugula salad was well dressed with light champagne vinaigrette, but the chunks of creamy Humboldt Fog goat cheese and bacon lardons were awkwardly large, and added too much salt to the tender greens ($10).  The truffle chips, on the other hand, outdid all the other plates. Hand-cut fries, served in a brown-paper cone, are sprinkled with salty herbed- parmesan and served with a creamy, truffle-infused aioli sauce ($7).

The Meyer Ranch hanger steak, was cooked perfectly to order, but the roasted garlic and shallot confit overwhelmed the bistro-cut angus ($19).  The steak is served with two oversized tater tots, a fun idea, but covered with a fine parmesan breading that makes them so dry that they almost inedible.   The 8oz. hand-packed cheeseburger was a “solid” burger, topped with Irish cheddar, garlic aioli, pickled onions, and Boston bib lettuce, served on a peppered Challah bun with a heaping mountain of hand-cut fries ($13).  The half roast chicken was a succulent home-style feast, simply prepared, with carrots, celery, cipollini onions, and roasted potatoes.  The large portion of crispy-skinned, juicy chicken is large enough for two to share ($19).

Final Thoughts:

Lord Hobo is a trendy Inman Square pub with an impressive beer, wine, and cocktail list.  The menu, prices, and setting need tweaking after only a few months of operation.  Overall, it is a good place for beer lovers to gather with friends or a casual date for appetizers, but not a great spot for conversation and an entire meal.  Important note:  An ID is required for entrance even if you are just dining.

Score Key:

Price Range:

$    Average entrée is $10, Highest price is <$18

$$    Average entrée is $15, Highest price is <$25

$$$    Average entrée is $20, Highest price is <$30

$$$$    Average entrée is $25, Highest price is <$40

$$$$$    Average entrée is $30, Highest price is whatever you can dream of

Vegetarian Friendly:

NONE: Pack a lunch

A few token items available

Great selection

A vegetarian paradise

Beer or Wine List:

Mass breweries and wineries only

Standard beer or wine list with a few local twists

A selection large and interesting enough to keep the connoisseur busy

Off the chart amazing; a large selection of both local and international options

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